Union notifies Tacoma’s CHI Franciscan Health of possible one-day strike

A union representing more than 1,100 health care workers at two Pierce County hospitals notified CHI Franciscan Health on Friday of their intention to hold a one-day strike on Nov. 18.

The workers are members of the Service Employees United International Local 1199NW and are employed at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma and St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood.

Franciscan and the union have been bargaining on a contract.

“The hospital has cut our staff by nearly 10 percent even though we have the same number of patients,” Becky Horst, a health unit coordinator at St. Clare Hospital, said in a news release. “They’ve cut our benefits, too. They’re sending profit to CHI in Denver and leaving us and our patients with less.”

Because health care workers are involved, the union is required by law to give the hospitals 10 days’ notice to ensure patients aren’t affected. Franciscan spokesman Scott Thompson said Friday that the hospitals are taking steps to ensure it has replacement workers who can care for patients and continue on with business in the event of a strike.

According to the release, the strike will involve nursing assistants, housekeeping, dietary, sterile processing, unit coordinators, and other service positions at both hospitals, as well as technical positions including radiology techs, sonographers and surgical techs at St. Clare’s.

A bargaining session is set for next week. The strike, if it happens will be from 7 a.m. on Nov. 18 and will end at 6:59 a.m. on Nov. 19.